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National continues ECE assault

Written By: - Date published: 6:35 am, March 10th, 2011 - 45 comments
Categories: education, national - Tags: , ,

National selected a Welfare Working Group that would give them the benefit recommendations that they wanted – a little to the right of Genghis Khan – but even they could see how much quality Early Childhood Education is needed, devoting a part of their report to it.

But National just keep on attacking the sector; and our future and our children.

The latest attack is purely on quality, rather than cost, and was snuck out under the ceasefire of the Christchurch Earthquake.

They now intend to allow what can only be described as battery farming of our children.

75 under-2 year-olds in one centre is a recipe for disaster.  Young children need to form attachments with a very small number of adults to function properly, lead (mentally) healthy lives, and to learn.  Having 20+ teachers wandering past and not being able to form a relationship with any of them will destroy any children left in these centres.  The image of dozens of babies at various stages of crawling, sitting, rolling scattered across a large room just doesn’t make sense.

The changes are to “reduce compliance costs” as there are currently 460 centres with more than 1 ECE centre license.  Licenses currently allow up to 50 pre-schoolers, including up to 25 under-2s.  The NZEI does not know of a centre with more than 25 under-2s – and any more than 15 is a struggle for the babies.

The change will be to 150 pre-schoolers, including 75 under-2s.  Yes those centres for more than 50 will have reduced compliance costs; but there was a reason that they were given hurdles to jump - it’s very hard for centre to be big and retain its necessary humanity.  Having multiple licenses ensured no section was too large.

But the real worry is with those under-2s.  If the Welfare Working Group gets their way and has 14 week-olds sent to childcare whilst their Mums are forced out to work for minimum wage, the only childcare affordable to these mothers is likely to be some corporate cost-cutting 75 child centre.  And the children will suffer.  And how will those children, unable to form any relationships, help our country’s future?

45 comments on “National continues ECE assault”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    This is a descent into Dickensian brutality, make no mistake.

    These are nothing less than poor houses for the visiting of the “sins” of the parents onto the children.

    Paula Rebstock is from the United States, a country noted for a peculiarly scientific approach to it’s savagery. In Tolley, we have a willing oaf to act as jail keeper to the ideas of the eugenisists of the Welfare Working Group.

    • Bored 1.1

      You have said what I would, totally agree with you. The thought of eugenics came to mind immediately. I am currently reading the memoir of an NKVD officer running a GULAG camp. The frightening thing is that he recognised the evil of the system he administered but was an all too willing participant. The kind of thinking that leads to enticing /forcing parents to work, and dropping children off into sub optimal conditions needs to be challenged at source before it becomes an established system. Once established tacit acceptance becomes the norm.

      The absence of noise about this issue from both left and right (in particular the right who love “freedom”) is a deeply disturbing commentary on the pathology of a society exposed to the “individualistic” orthodoxy of the last 30 years . We think in terms of material freedom for ourselves only, other peoples “freedoms” are their concern. Through this thinking we are divided and ruled.

    • Vicky32 1.2

      I agree totally, Sanctuary. I am reminded of back before de-institutionalisation, when I started psychopaedic nursing training at Mangere Hospital. There were ‘crawling rooms’, chock full of multi-handicapped children, who would never crawl without intensive one-to-one therapy, and two nurses (one of us a student), and all we could do for these poor children, was feed, toilet, rinse and repeat…
      I see these 75 baby centres as being something like that… 37 years later, and for the children of the poor.

  2. You mean that cheaper is not better?

    I agree it is a strange bizarre stupid idiotic mean despicable appalling decision. I am starting to run out of adjectives.

    By “reducing compliance costs” no doubt the Nats think they can then reduce the size of the subsidy. But they seem to have no understanding of what a one or two year old child is like.

  3. Monty 3

    This post is just pure nonsense. You ignore the fact that parents will investigate which child care centre is best for their child – and while sizes may increase, the structure of staff and operations will reflect that. Children will no doubt be well cared for. Childcare centres want happy children and the structure of the operation at a facility will ensure that (or they would go out of business very quickly.

    Essentially the child care centres will operate on the basis of clusters or small managemable groups in much the same way as a school breaks down into classrooms.

    Go back and try again.

    • Quite so Monty; and there are other options, such as home-based care, where a maximum ratio of four children to one carer (with no more than two under-twos) applies.

      • Rosy 3.1.1

        “home-based care”
        And no control over what the sole carer does with the children. I’ll take small, well-run childcare centres that socialise kids and have a number of trained carers any day.

        • billy fish 3.1.1.1

          On the subject of home based care – this is an equally valid option when done via an organisation like Barnados – they do careful vetting, have good quality checking and the kids do socialise in larger groups at play centres.

      • Bored 3.1.2

        Monty and Inventory: Nonsense?????? Have you questioned the fact that as recently as 30 years ago people on the average income could afford a reasonable lifestyle with a parent at home caring for children?

        Before you start giving me the usual crap about it being a matter of choice think about a current reality: the lower incomes in particular need the second income just to make ends meet. So as pressure comes on prices and incomes where does the choice bit come in?

        In your words Monty, “Go back and try again”.

        • Inventory2 3.1.2.1

          @ Bored – Home-based ECE is the fastest growing sector of ECE because it’s flexible, it’s geared to the requirements of the parents, and because care in a home environment with a qualified carer is the next best thing to a child being at home.

          http://www.lead.ece.govt.nz/ServiceTypes/HomeBasedECEServices.aspx

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1.1

            National don’t have any knowledge on what is good for ECE – and if they do, they are steadfastly ignoring it.

            Monty is just on a huge derail in this thread, since he knows how shit these changes are for NZ children – a group already suffering from high levels of poverty, neglect and abuse.

          • Bored 3.1.2.1.2

            @Inventory. You have not answered the question about the reason it is needed…….I dont doubt it s the next best thing…..if you have to have it.

        • Deadly_NZ 3.1.2.2

          Its true My dad worked and mum stayed home and did the house keeper thing, that was in 1970 just after we arrived from England in 1969. It was like that until about 1985 when things started to change some say for the worse, well life was much simpler back then…

    • Rosy 3.2

      With the welfare ‘reforms’ the poorest of the poor will have NO choice but to take what is on offer nearest to them or nearest to their work. And it’s highly likely that these areas are exactly the ones that will be most profitable for big childcare centres with ‘reduced compliance costs’ and minimal space for babies in small groups with a constant lead carer.

      The next step will be to reduce inspections because private firms do that better without oversight *cough*

    • Pascal's bookie 3.3

      No doubt buildings will not leak, buyers will investigate builders and make sure that the job is done to at least the minimum requirements. Builders want non leaking buildings filled with happy healthy families. Otherwise they will go out of business very quickly.

      etc.

      • lprent 3.3.1

        As a owner of a fixed leaky building, I’d have to say that the “market” doesn’t care if they are not immediately liable. When we finally got everyone close to court 12 years after the building was completed, there really weren’t that many to be found.

    • neoleftie 3.4

      Oh monty – this is more about creating scales of economy, while the ratio of teachers to children is the same, now you have 20% of teachers able to be unqualified and basically more babies crammed into the same area as before. The unqaulified teacher will get the job of baby carer in an over crowded baby type factory…While the elites can afford to pay extra for top quality education, those of us who are struggling will have to put up with the norm situation of overcrowding in the baby area of a child care centre. More importantly this policy was pushed through without consultation.
      next we’ll get ‘double cotting’ in kindies to accommodate the xtra babies in the same area – god help a kindy if they have to be evacuated i.e earthquake.

    • Eddie 3.5

      ah, the fallacy of choice.

      ‘why have food safety standards, people can choose not to buy dangerous food if they want to and pay the extra’

      • neoleftie 3.5.1

        jeeze eddie – only the elites have the extra coin to be able to have this choice but then again thats what this economic system is setup for – to further the elites and their choices.

    • Colonial Viper 3.6

      Monty is spitting out the usual free market “free choice” bullshit.

      The one where parents have a “free choice” to choose whether their children get stabbed or get burnt.

      This is a huge degradation of conditions for large numbers of NZ children – children we already know suffer at high rates from poverty, neglect and abuse – which will make outcomes in our society far worse.

      “Try again” Monty? It’s National who is going to have to try again, sometime around 2023.

    • bbfloyd 3.7

      as usual. monty has to try to turn a serious issue into a party political bullshit session. i know you beleive all the shit you talk monty. …that’s what is so depressing/frightening….. your so called alternatives are laughably unrealistic at best….. a display of utter ignorance atnd a lack of any kind of humanity otherwise…..

      you havn’t even the sketchiest grasp of the numbers of children involved, and that will be involved in this exersize in dickensonian politics. absolutely no grasp of the logistical nightmare about to be inflicted upon the ece system,,, yet you can’t stop yourself defending the indefensible… go back to sheep herding lad….at least you will get the sort of intellectual stimulation that would suit your personality, and iq…….

      i’ll give you a small hint…. unlees they are being prepared for a futore in the chain gangs and slave labour camps that nationals economic vision will create,, then this is social and economic tragedy unfolding before our eyes….not yours, of course, because we know you’re blinded by the bright lghts of john keys personality…..

  4. Janice 4

    When I first heard this on the news I had an awful view of Rumanian type child care where babies had learnt that to cry was useless as there was no attention for them. They were dirty, unchanged, and were sitting blank eyed up in cots, rocking back and forward, or banging there heads on the sides of cots. As for being able to choose your childcare, if your benefit is going to be cancelled you will have to take what is available on the small income you will be able to earn. Perhaps a PPP is envisaged.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    I don’t like the idea of putting my dog in commercial kennels let alone children. The proposed change in compliance does seem related to the WWG report down the road as Janice says.

    Workers in ECE took decades to get standards and qualifications accepted in their industry and now sections look like becoming the ‘attendants’ and ‘baby sitters’ critics have often called them. If staff have to look after rows of under twos what will happen to actual education and attention for the older children?

    This is an anti woman government in fact, when you add up all the measures that have impacted with Night schools ACE, national standards, ACC, health cuts, attacks on tertiary staff conditions, student unions, disbanding pay equity forums and now this. Posters need to be put up in all institutions listing the Natz sins and encouraging women to vote them and ‘Mr Floppy’, ‘Shonkey’, ‘JFK’ ‘smile & wave’ or whatever you like to call him out for good in November.

  6. billy fish 6

    Simply part of the process of spreading the “commoditisation of education” to cover every aspect of the education sector. If someone is not squeezing the last cent out of it then its not good.

  7. Rob 7

    Tiger Mountain, don’t forget disability care workers (78% female) who continue to be paid illegally

  8. higherstandard 8

    At the risk of being declared the Antichrist – wouldn’t it be great if the ‘traditional family’ of one carer staying at home with the kids until they started at school be great if it was the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

    • Mac1 8.1

      More ‘impish’ than Antichrist, HS. ;-) Wouldn’t it be great if the norm was that one family could comfortably exist on one decent salary?

      $15 an hour is a start, supported by the community through the agency of the State, I would suggest.

    • fermionic_interference 8.2

      If that were to be the case we would need wages that for a single income family covered the everyday expenses, currently the median wage will not do that to a safe and healthy level for a couple and a child.

      captcha: electric is that because people will soon find it even harder to pay their electricity bills after Brownlee’s stupidity?

    • neoleftie 8.3

      talking some note of all the papers spread round my house on ECE, it would be the ideal for one parent / care giver to provide as much quality time with their children but saying that the quality level of ECE theory and practice in new zealand is world class.

      • Mac1 8.3.1

        At a ‘fathering’ conference twenty years ago I remember distinctly the lead speaker, a man, who had written of the need for ‘quality time’ for parent with children, confess that he now believed that quality time was a cop-out to excuse his being away from the household, and that he now believed in time with the children, enough and more for their needs.

        I am glad that you say, neoleftie, that the quality of NZ ECE is world class. It needs to be. He aha te mea nunui i te ao? E ki ana ahau “He tamariki. He tamariki. He tamariki.”

    • felix 8.4

      Totally agree hs/antichrist, it’s not rocket surgery innit?

      But without decent wages families just can’t afford to raise toddlers at home, which I find very sad in many ways.

  9. Licenses currently allow up to 50 pre-schoolers, including up to 25 under-2s. The NZEI does not know of a centre with more than 25 under-2s…

    These sentences appear to render the whole debate pointless. First, if licences currently allow up to 50 and we haven’t raised a hue and cry over that, it’s hard to see why the step up to 75 should be such an outrage. Second, the NZEI isn’t aware of any centre operating at even close to the current maximum, so it’s hard to see why the govt wants to introduce this in the first place (because the current maximum seems more than sufficient), or why we should care if they do (because centres don’t seem to utilise the maximum already in place).

    [Bunji: to correct your confusion; the rise in license is from 25 to 75 under-2s (and 50 to 150 total pre-schoolers). Centres use up to the current maximum for 1 license (25), but where they have multiple licenses apparently only use it for over 2s]

    • Rosy 9.1

      The way I see it is that the government has been asking around about why there are not enough childcare centres in poor areas so they can implement their welfare plan and the ‘industy’ says we can’t afford to put childcare centres in … whereever, these people can’t pay the fees, you’ve taken away our extra funding so they only way we can afford to operate in some areas is to upsize.

      They might not be there now, but they will be.

      • neoleftie 9.1.1

        under the labour 20 free the ECE private model was very profitable and have enabled a huge growth in the number of centres.

    • Sanctuary 9.2

      I think most people are making the clear link between this and the proposal to force mothers back into the workforce when their child is only fourteen weeks old.

      It seems obvious to me that the government plans to herd children into Dickensian childcare to fufill their Tory revenge fantasies on solo mums.

      • neoleftie 9.2.1

        also linked to the workforce partipation rates and its effects on wages.While i agree that every member must do their best to secure a place in the workforce it is the duty of the state to maxamise growth to allow for more job creation…profits profit profit – MonKEY should rename their party the PPP clan.

    • Luxated 9.3

      First, if licences currently allow up to 50 and we haven’t raised a hue and cry over that, it’s hard to see why the step up to 75 should be such an outrage.

      I raise you.

      The change will be to 150 pre-schoolers, including 75 under-2s.

      Second, the NZEI isn’t aware of any centre operating at even close to the current maximum…

      Reread what you quoted again, “The NZEI does not know of a centre of more that 25 under-2s…”. Which to my mind implies they are aware of some centres using their full allowance (on one license) of under-2s.

      The reason this is a problem is that by tripling the current limits you effectively impose a large overhead on small/current operators because they pay for a lot of license they won’t be using. All it then needs is for someone to start a discount childcare centre with 150 children near people who feel they’re struggling to pay their current childcare costs, that is where the problems start.

    • Apologies, I misread the numbers I quoted – see Luxated’s comment.

  10. Gotham 10

    I wonder, if in their infinite wisdom, the WWG considered the WHO recommendations of breastfeeding till 1 year old. Ministry of Health recommends till at least 6 months. So, not only do these mothers who are forced back into work with a 14 week old baby have to find magical jobs that run between the hours of 9-3, but employers who are happy to provide at least two half hours breaks and an appropriate space to express milk.

  11. randal 11

    and they wil double the fees too.
    thats the modern way.

  12. ChrisH 12

    Listen to the Radio NZ interview with Augustina Driessen on the importance of attachment to a primary carer, 19 Feb 2011: http://www.radionz.co.nz/search?mode=results&queries_all_query=attachment . The subject of this posting really is Rumanian orphanage territory and every one of these kids will grow up a crim / drug addict / prostitute, I fear. It’s the final expression of the argument of Karl Polanyi, who argued in The Great Transformation that a market society depended on the input of labour but did nothing to ensure that labour (people) was adequately reproduced, effectively exploiting parenthood. Bringing up the children of the poor in Rumanian orphanages is the last expression of this exploitative dynamic, the last generation before the collapse of the atomised society into a new Dark Age.

  13. Gramsci 13

    What is needed is a public ECE service that is flexible enough to meet the demands of parents, focussed on the quality care and teaching of the children and widespread enough to drive the market into a better place.

    At the moment there are simply not enough public ECE centres to set the standard. This is why NZ has such a high quality school age education system – there is only the opportunity for private profit making ventures around the edges. The state has the monopoly and so it should.

    Not so in ECE. The private sector has come to dominate as the public sector was slow to accommodate the changing nature of work. As a result we have a focus on quantity; not quality and a predominantly low-paid workforce that has no incentive now to upskill. The private owners are firmly on the public nipple and they are sucking hard.

    The government had the opportunity to remedy this when ABC childcare went into receivership. It could have bought it out and changed the landscape for good.

    Instead we have further steps in the race to the bottom.

    • Carol 13.1

      Actually, even in the UK where they have a long tradition of state provided early childhood education, they support workers in schools, and trained main workers in day early childhood day care centres (usually trained as a Nursery Nurse for both places when I was there) are pretty lowly paid.

      The problem is, good quality early childhood education & care is expensive, and no government anywhere is really that keen to pay the price. (ie qualified staff, low staff-child ratio, suitable buildings and resources). I knew a woman who owned and managed her own early childhood centre in a fairly outer-urban-to-rural area. Her dream was to run a community centre for children of all income backgrounds. She reckoned to provide good quality care she would need to charge an amount that only the wealthier parents could afford. She also was unhappy that Thatcher’s government had set it up so that children with disabilities were referred to some private centres when there were no other places available int he child’s area. But the government was not providing the subsidies to provide the care and education those children needed.

  14. feijoa 14

    It’s difficult for parents to judge the quality of ECE, as by definition, parents aren’t there, cos they’re at work! Therefore this sector needs clear standards and trained teachers. The actions of this government to squeeze ECE is beyond belief -this is the most vulnerable group in our society -our children- who have no voice. They are our future.

  15. Treetop 15

    The lack of understanding the current government have regarding early child development and the welfare of children not yet in school is unbelievably IGNORANT. The proof of this is in the proposed number of babies, toddlers and preschoolers in an early child care centre.

    How is a baby or toddler expected to get any quality sleep?
    How is a two year old expected to be assisted with toliet training?
    How are language skills to be acquired with high volume noise?
    How are babies, toddlers and preschoolers to be managed at meal/snack times including fluids?
    Mobility is also a concern as too much distraction results in accidents, as well over crowding increases accidents.

    I have not gone into attachment, when there is an out break of illness, managing tantrums, other safety e.g. bolting out the gate, a different person picking up a child.

    I know of a centre which has 75 children attending it and the parents in the area have little choice when a child is under two years old. In Wellington some child care centres charge $70 a day (including food for an under two).

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